I Don't Treat My Son And Daughter Equally

Anonymous Anonymous in Single Women Bad Women on 8 January, 2017

"You must never ever hurt a girl," I dutifully explained to my 8-year-old son as part of my ongoing effort as a self-proclaimed feminist to raise my son to be a perfect gentlemen. I also, as all mums should, show him the public service messages that the ad world routinely creates such as the more recent and very powerful:

"Ladke rulate nahin"

As an urban woman and a stay-at-home mom by choice, I know I would feel like an utter failure if my son was ever disrespectful to any girl at any point in his life, especially in light of the crimes against women in today's dismal society. But in this homemade crusade for gender equality, like every other urban Indian woman, I seemed to have overlooked a vital development. 

I have two children, a boy and a girl, and my daughter is NOT equal to my son.

We hold candle marches for girls who continue to be brutalised by men who honestly do not even qualify as human, why? At some point when I wasn't looking, my daughter, like seemingly every other girl in Modern India has been born into a generation where girls are clearly on TOP! And I realised this the moment I turned my back post my social service message to my son, only to hear my daughter whack her older brother, stick her tongue out and say,

"You can't hit me. Mom just said so!"

I admit I grew up enjoying every single male-bashing joke in the book, simply because my generation seemed to be bang in the middle of many things revolutionary. While I was growing up, my father, always emphatically told both his daughters, "girls are the best!" He was truly grateful he had been blessed with two. So much so that I remember him saying to anyone who openly and shamelessly asked why he didn't try to have a son?

Only in this great country is belittling a daughter's existence in her very presence, considered acceptable small talk.

But just as my shoulders would involuntarily slump a little I would hear him say it like he meant it, shutting up the other person for good and making me feel so proud for being who I am, "Even if I had to adopt another child, I would bring home another girl".

I was part of the generation when women were starting to be told that they could do anything they wanted to. They worked, they studied, they travelled the world, salwar kameez and saris were shed in favour of fashion from the west and for the better.

Yes we walked into a pharmacy and proudly purchased condoms and sanitary napkins, yes being a virgin on your wedding night became an exception rather than the norm, yes we partied, yes we drank, we even smoked in public. 

Yes we broke every shackle, restraint and constraint that generations before us had struggled with. My generation did everything that today's social networking instructs us to. And we were bloody successful at it all. But you know what, in retrospect, almost all men in our lives helped rather than hindered us in the process.

We were told good girls don't drink, don't party, don't smoke, don't stay out until late and the boys who party with you now are never going to marry you! But guess what...they did! And they did so because they wanted to....they did it with respect.

Today men are our friends, they are our colleagues, our bosses, our subordinates. Yes, today our society is also more sick than it ever has been, there exist merciless psychopaths roaming the streets, women are being raped, murdered, tortured....but I suspect they always were.

Today possibly more crimes are being reported because more women are willing to come out and talk about it. And it boils my blood to think of myself, my friend, my sister and especially my daughter as being vulnerable to their attacks. Hell, even our grandmothers today aren't safe. But if I may borrow from another similar slogan, 'all men are not rapists'.

Yes they break our hearts more often than not. They aren't always chivalrous. They never pick up after themselves and the internet is flooded with jokes on putting the toilet seat down. This Mars-Venus war is a never ending one.

For every deranged beast out there, there are thousands of men who love and respect us for what we are, they accept our choices of Birkins, bikinis, and bindis and have stopped dictating over us a long time ago. Maybe it's about time we stop this reverse chauvinism and accept that we really are equal. Maybe it's time we accept they are are allies and stop yelling that at them every chance we get.

Today's girl is already empowered! She knows what she's capable of achieving, she is fully aware of her equal rights and how to get what she deserves. Today's urban Indian girl is born into her home and country when equality is the reality. Yes, of course she needs to be sheltered from the perverts of the world, but then so do little boys. But believe me today's girl is no damsel in distress.

In fact I'm actually starting to worry just a little bit now, that if we keep up the way we are we may need motivational videos for our sons very soon titled "ladkiyan rulati nahin". 

This post was submitted by Nitya Alwani-Satyani.

Author's Note:

I am a feminist deeply concerned about women's rights but I am first a mother definitely protective about both my children. And society today, in its fight to protect and empower women seems to have developed a serious misconception that gender equality is translated to putting down the male gender. As a mother of a girl I am proud to see that there are innumerable people looking out for the girl child today, but as a mother of a son I hope this does not come at the price of his self-confidence.